A condo building in the town of Surfside near Miami, Florida, has collapsed. The building’s sudden collapse trapped several people, injuring at least ten at killing at least one. Immediately following the collapse, massive response from local first responders swarmed into the rubble to execute a swift search-and-rescue operation. Immediately after the disaster, dozens of people were pulled free of the rubble.
The condo tower, Champlain Towers South, was built in 1981 according to authorities. The building was 12 stories tall and is comprised of some 130 units. Of them, 55 units are on the corridor affected by the northeast corridor’s collapse. First responders believe around 70 units were damaged or outright destroyed by the collapse. Two people were hospitalized, included the person who suffered fatal injuries.
The collapse, which seemingly came out of nowhere, astonished the Miami community Thursday morning. By 11:00 AM on Thursday, authorities believed that they had cleared all of the survivors from the building. “Everyone who is alive is out of the building,” Miami emergency director Frank Rollason told the Herald.
Search and rescue operations were ongoing Thursday morning, as authorities were unable to give exact numbers as to how many people were still missing from the collapse. The efforts to search the rubble could take as long as a week, first responders claim, as the damage to the collapsed building is significant.
Many in the community were shocked that the building fell so suddenly. It’s hard to imagine how this could happen,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told reporters. “Buildings just don’t fall down.” Many in the area compared the scene of destruction to the effects of a bomb, though authorities don’t believe any explosives were involved in the collapse.
In the chaos that immediately followed the collapse, people near the building report hearing shouts for help from the rubble. Miami’s Technical Rescue Team, a special unit of the fire department, was activated to save the survivors. The Technical Rescue Team is trained specifically to pull people out of cramped, dangerous spaces.
Conventional first responders were responsible for getting people out of the still-standing portion of the building. The worst damage was confined to the northeast side of the building, which completely collapsed.
Miami-Dade County has set up a Family Reunification Center near the collapsed building so families can join with their loved ones. Hundreds of people swarmed the Center Thursday morning, looking desperately for loved ones who might be trapped in the rubble. As of the time of this writing, the rescue effort is still in full swing.